Blackout Black Friday: Trio of protesters rallies outside Gardens Mall

Scheril Murray Powel, (from left), a Florida International University law school student, Ayanna Asante and Jamilah Gavin hold signs while demonstrating in front of the Gardens Mall on Friday in Palm Beach Gardens. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)
Scheril Murray Powell, (from left), a Florida International University law school student, Ayanna Asante and Jamilah Gavin hold signs while demonstrating in front of the Gardens Mall on Friday in Palm Beach Gardens. (Bill Ingram / The Palm Beach Post)

Outside The Gardens Mall on Friday in Palm Beach Gardens, a trio of protesters were just a small segment of protests both locally and nationally calling for a boycott of Black Friday.

Promoted over social media as #BlackoutBlackFriday, the movement calls for both blacks and those against racial inequality to stay away from large retailers both on the biggest shopping day of the year and other days throughout the year.

They included Florida International University law student Scheril Murray Powell, who says she began boycotting Black Friday in 2012 and continued after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, as a form of economic activism against police shootings involving mostly black young men.

That sense of activism, Powell said, was heightened with last month’s shooting death of 31-year-old Corey Jones, a stranded black motorist gunned down by now-fired Palm Beach Gardens Police officer Norman Raja.

“Even if I was the only one out here, I’d still be here,” Powell said. “I want to be a catalyst for change, and this is how I’m doing it.”

Brad Goldstein, a spokesman from a firm The Gardens Mall hired specifically to address protests in the wake of Jones death, said he was unaware of any other protests aside from the one where Powell stood. He said he didn’t think National Blackout founder and Black Lawyers for Justice president, Dr. Malik Zulu Shabazz, was at the mall.

“Our sympathies go out to the Jones family,” Goldstein said, adding: “The mall had nothing to do with the tragedy.”

At one point during Friday’s demonstration, a white man in a gray BMW slowed down at the intersection, rolled down his window and said, “Don’t forget Corey.”

Powell, who two weeks ago organized a panel discussion and candlelight vigil in honor of Jones in Broward County, told the man that Jones was the reason why they were there.

Ayanna Asante, a local co-chair of the National Blackout, one of the organizations spearheading the calls for the boycott, said members of the group in Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and other places of recent shootings involving white police officers have turned out in droves.

Asante and her daughter joined Powell on PGA Boulevard, along with a handful of others who came and went, with plans to conduct other protests elsewhere.

Their hope, organizers say, is to force business leaders and politicians to address racial injustice by forcing them to recognize the impact of blacks as consumers.

According to an ongoing Nielsen study of African American consumerism, whose latest findings were released in September, blacks were expected to spend about $1 trillion nationally this year.

UPDATED: 15 questions addicts should ask to find a safe halfway house

These 15 questions will help you avoid being the victim of insurance fraud and patient brokering in a halfway house.

Picking a sober home: What to ask

More than two dozen sober home operators have been arrested since October 2016 and charged with accepting and paying kickbacks to enroll insured addicts living in sober homes to specific treatment centers. Asking these 15 questions will help you determine if a sober home is doing business legally and offers the best accommodations for recovery. 

1. Are you certified by the Florida Association of Recovery Residences? FARR certifies sober homes that meet 38 standards for recovery, housing, administration, training, finance and good-neighbor practices. Certified homes can be found at farronline.org.

2. Is the residence coed? Experts agree that newly recovered addicts, especially women, are vulnerable. Dating and relationships in early sobriety can take the focus off recovery.

3.What will happen if I relapse? FARR recommends that sober homes devise individual relapse protocols that include contacts and alternative housing arrangements.

4. Have there been any overdoses or deaths? Is staff trained in CPR?

5. How often do you drug test? Are tests random? What kind of tests? How much do they cost?

Here’s how the fraud works

6. Do you bill insurance? Sober homes are not licensed to offer medical care and cannot bill insurance for services, including rent.

7. How much is rent? How is it paid? What is included in rent? What is the refund policy? Are there rules about pocket change and money transfers? Experts warn insured residents to be leery of free rent, gift cards, cellphones, gym memberships and other inducements if linked to attendance at an intensive outpatient program (IOP) or the provision of urine samples.

8. Do you have an ownership interest or receive referral fees from an intensive outpatient program (IOP) or lab? Such kickbacks, often disguised as “case management fees” are illegal under Florida’s patient brokering law. 

9. Have there been any complaints filed against the sober home or its employees, including code violations?

10. How much training, education and clean time do you require of employees, including house managers?

11. Are properties and vehicles that transport clients insured? Are clients allowed to drive vehicles?

12. Are there 12-step meetings on property? Do you provide transportation to meetings? The grocery store? Is there public transportation within walking distance?

13. What are your policies regarding guests and furloughs?

14. What is your cellphone policy?

15. What is the maximum occupancy? How many to a room? How many bathrooms?

Read more of the Post’s coverage of corruption in the drug treatment industry.

Thieves, crabs and broken glass — artist and his bridge muse survive to win top Canvas mural

Her name is Clara. She’ll be a familiar face in downtown West Palm Beach for at least the next year, greeting passerby on the sidewalk along the east side of Flagler Drive where it curves beneath the Royal Park Bridge.

Sean Yoro -- Hiula -- takes a final rest Sunday before finishing his mural under the Royal Pak Bridge.
Sean Yoro — Hiula — takes a final rest Sunday before finishing his mural under the Royal Pak Bridge.

And when you see her, appreciate the ordeal she went through to get to her perch on the cracked concrete wall where the pigeons roost and just above the lapping tide of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Actually, her creator – artist Sean Yoro, who goes by Hula and specializes in hyperrealstic portraits of women — is the one who suffered.

Vandals smashed a beer bottle across Clara’s face late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, forcing Yoro to wrap his bare feet in cellophane tape for protection from the broken glass that he discovered on the scaffolding and in the water below the mural when he arrived at 5 a.m. Sunday to finish.

That was just his latest challenge since he started work Nov. 8 as part of the Canvas Outdoor Museum Show, which ended Sunday.

Sometime between Thursday night and early Friday morning, thieves stole Yoro’s paint supplies and the photographs he used as a painting guide. He wasn’t able to resume work until late Friday and early Saturday, after he got new paint supplies.

Yoro wrapped his feet for protection from broken glass Sunday after someone pelted his mural overnight with a beer bottles. His paints were stolen late Thursday from his scaffold under the bridge.
Yoro wrapped his feet for protection from broken glass Sunday after someone pelted his mural overnight with a beer bottles. His paints were stolen late Thursday from his scaffold under the bridge.

And to replace the large 11-by-14 laminated photographs of Clara, he used some more of that cellophane packing tape to fasten his iPhone – with the same Clara photograph on the screen – to his wrist to guide his final two days of painting.

Other than that — and the pigeons swooping past his face and the crabs crawling around his feet– the two-week project under the bridge was a breeze.

At least the outdoor working conditions beat his last project. Last month, Yoro put on a drysuit, paddled-boarded out into the chilly waters of Iceland and painted a woman’s face across eight feet of an iceberg.

When Yoro came to West Palm Beach late last month to scout locations for Clara, he said he was sick with a fever, no thanks to the cold temps late last month in Iceland.


But West Palm Beach and its warmer-than-usual temperatures for this month were bonuses for Yoro, who grew up in Hawaii.

He scouted locations in West Palm Beach aboard a paddle board while holding a long stick, which he poked into the water to figure out the water depth. His original plan was the paint a wall of the Royal Park Bridge in the middle of the channel in the Intracoastal, closer to the drawbridge spans.

Last week, Yoro showed off photographs of his model friend Clara. The photos were stolen Thursday night.

But he couldn’t permission for that, so he settled on the bridge wall closest to the sidewalk.

The day before he arrived in West Palm Beach to start painting, he was in New York photographing the real Clara – a model and friend. He had measured the space beneath the bridge on his scouting visit.

So, in his Brooklyn studio, he had Clara pose under a cardboard box with her left arm over her head and her right arm resting against the side.

In Yoro’s finished mural, Clara appears to rise out of the water and hold up the bridge. The water, depending on the tide, rises up her chest toward shoulders and then down.

She appears to be nude, but the mural’s lowest point ends well above her breasts.

“Guys always come by and say, ‘I can’t wait to come back at low tide so I can see her boobs!” Yoro said, laughing. “I’m like, ‘You can come back but there’s not going to be anything to see.’’ WRIST

As he painted, Yoro made dozens of friends — from students to fishermen to joggers, all watching him climb in his bare feet over the railing, into the water and up two extension ladders to a makeshift scaffold made of a long piece of wood.

(The tops of the ladders were bolted into the concrete beneath the bridge, he said, just as he bolted ladders into the iceberg in his last project.)

He said at least 10 strangers who happened upon him in the first week under the bridge returned nearly every day to follow his progress. Many are are now on a first-name basis with him, having exchanged text messages with him to know his schedule.

Brianna Michelle, a Palm Beach State University student, has followed Yoro’s progress nearly every day for the past two weeks.

It apparently paid off. Yoro said he was informed Sunday that his mural was selected as most popular of the 20 Canvas works in interactive voting.

He said he will give the mural a formal name some time today.

Yoro leaves West Palm Beach this afternoon. He plans to rest up before painting his next portrait – in New Zealand.

He wants to return to West Palm Beach next year to check on Clara. He said he might even bring the real Clara.

“I want to see how she ages in the elements.’’

You can follow Yoro on Instagram via @the_hula.

Sean Yoro — Hula — snaps a selfie to text to a friend in Brooklyn

Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel: From Clematis Street to AL Cy Young Award

Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel -- shown here on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach in February -- won the American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday.
Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel — shown here on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach in February — won the American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday.

Few people recognized Houston Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel as he stood at the end of Clematis Street in February with local officials at a kick off to a baseball dinner.

Wearing street clothes that day, Kuechel stood out mainly as some young guy with the long beard.

Kuechel left West Palm Beach after the dinner and reported to Kissimmee for spring training, the start of what turned out to be a stellar year.

On Wednesday, Keuchel was honored as the American League’s top pitcher by winning the Cy Young Award.

Keuchel was in West Palm earlier this year as part of a celebration of plans by the Astros and Washington Nationals to share their spring training operations south of 45th Street starting in 2017.

 

Houston Astros ace pitcher Dallas Keuchel (second from left in beard) visited West Palm Beach in February to kick off plans for the team's new spring training complex.
Houston Astros ace pitcher Dallas Keuchel (second from left in beard) visited West Palm Beach in February to kick off plans for the team’s new spring training complex.

 

 

Corey Jones music benefit on Clematis Street set for Dec. 10.

Downtown West Palm Beach club owner Rodney Mayo is hosting a music benefit next month for Corey Jones, a drummer who was gunned down in October by an off-duty Palm Beach Gardens police officer.

Corey Jones
Corey Jones

Jones played drums for the Future Prezidents, which will be one of several bands performing Dec. 10 in the 500 block of Clematis Street at three Mayo-owned venues: Respectable Street, Longboards and Subculture Coffee.

“That block is going to be ‘Corey block,’’’ said Boris Simoneov, singer and leader of the Future Prezidents. “It’s all about keeping the beat alive for Corey.’’

The event, from 7 p.m. to midnight, could include up to 12 bands. There will also be artists, vendors and be petitions urging local lawmakers to introducing legislation next year requiring police officers to wear body cameras.

Proceeds will go to Jones’ family.

“I’m hoping we can make this an annual event,’’ said Simoneov.

“Rodney reached out to me about doing this. He has really taken on a leadership role, much more than I’ve seen from our elected officials.’’

Rodney Mayo
Rodney Mayo

Jones died Oct. 18 while trying to get home after performing for the Future Prezidents in Jupiter. He was waiting for a tow truck after his vehicle broke down on the southbound exit ramp of Interstate 95 when he was shot and killed by Palm Beach Gardens police officer Nouman Raja around 3:15 a.m.

Raja — who was wearing plain clothes and driving an unmarked van when he confronted Jones — was fired by the city last week.

 

 

More color and beauty from Canvas Outdoor Museum mural festival

It’s week two of the Canvas Outdoor Museum Show. Here’s a look at some of the mural action going on around downtown, thanks to my trusty iPhone camera

Hula (Sean Yoro) is fingertip-to-fingertip with his mural under the Royal Park Bridge in West Palm Beach late Monday afternoon.
Hula (Sean Yoro) is fingertip-to-fingertip with his mural under the Royal Park Bridge in West Palm Beach late Monday afternoon.

 

 

 

The artist Kobra is thumbs up on the side of Palm Beach Dramaworks
The artist Kobra is thumbs up on the side of Palm Beach Dramaworks

Kobra

Posing for pictures Sunday in front of the 2alas mural
Posing for pictures in front of the 2alas mural

 

 

Wrdsmith makes his mark
Wrdsmith makes his mark

 

 

Wrdsmith in action...
Wrdsmith in action…

 

 

 

Skinny dipper on Fern Street
Skinny dipper on Fern Street

 

 

Eye to eye with a mermaid
Eye to eye with a mermaid

 

 

Falk Lehmann of Herakut
Falk Lehmann of Herakut

 

 

Jasmin Siddiqui and Falk Lehmann of Herakut check out their finished mural Friday...
Jasmin Siddiqui and Falk Lehmann of Herakut check out their finished mural…

Paris attack alarms West Palm Beach traveller

Linda Tate and her friend Catherine Hetzel were enjoying their first dinner in Paris on Friday night when they began getting odd messages on their Facebook pages.

West Palm Beach financial adviser Linda Tate, (right) and friend Catherine Hetzel on, Friday night, their first day in Paris.
West Palm Beach financial adviser Linda Tate, (right) and friend Catherine Hetzel on, Friday night, their first night in Paris.

“I hope you guys are okay” friends were asking. Tate, 28, of West Palm Beach, and Hetzel, 29, of Metuchen, New Jersey, checked Twitter and learned of the terrorist attacks by ISIS.

“Every time you’d refresh you’d hear of another attack,” Tate said. Other diners checked their phones but continued eating. Tate, Hetzel and other friends who had joined them for dinner asked if they could eat in a dining room in the basement near the kitchen.

“Each of us was getting a little more panicked,” Tate said. Still, the other diners kept eating and so they did, too. “It was definitely very calm.”

But the attacks became more real when they left the restaurant and began walking back to the studio where they were staying, which is closer to one of the sites the terrorists attacked.

“We weren’t feeling to well about going back,” Tate said. Instead, they stopped at a hotel that had its own security. They tried to get a room but they were full. As they walked back to their studio, police with assault rifles patrolled the streets.

Tate and Hetzel had arrived in Paris on Friday morning. The quick vacation was a girls’ trip to celebrate Hetzel’s upcoming wedding in February. The plan was to meet up with other friends, shop and hop a tourist bus to see the city’s sites. Instead, they contacted the U.S. Embassy and reported they were safe.

“We were going to do some wedding shopping and get some awesome stuff,” said Tate. “Maybe by Monday things will calm down a little.”

The women are still considering what to do for the remaining three days of their stay in Paris, said Tate, a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley in West Palm Beach. They considered leaving and visiting a friend in Amsterdam but then learned the airport is closed.

They intend to avoid crowded, confined sites, like the Metro, Paris’ subway. Walking seems to be the safest option, Tate said.

“We’re going to find out if you have to be on lock-down of you can venture,” Tate said. “You almost feel weird having a good time because they killed a bunch of people.”

On buildings and under a bridge, head-turning murals covering downtown West Palm Beach

You might have noticed artists at work on outside murals around downtown West Palm Beach this week. It’s part of the CANVAS Outdoor Museum Show, a 14-day event that started Sunday.

Here’s a sampling of iPhone images taken today of some of the 20 large-scale murals in the works.

Brie-Elizabeth Conway walks past a lion in the 500 block of Fern Street, next to Nicole Henry Fine Art.
Brie-Elizabeth Conway walks past a lion in the 500 block of Fern Street, next to Nicole Henry Fine Art.
Artist Sean Yoro (aka Hula) at work under the Royal Park Bridge in West Palm Beach. He had to wait until low tide today to make his way to his concrete canvas.
Artist Sean Yoro (aka Hula) at work under the Royal Park Bridge in West Palm Beach. He had to wait until low tide today to make his way to his concrete canvas.
FINGERPRINT CLOSEUP
Filio Galvez of 2alas, in action on the south side of Datura Street just west of Dixie Highway

fingerpring back view

Falk Lehmann of Herakut at work behind Makebs Bagels on south side of Fern Street just west of Olive Avenue
Falk Lehmann of Herakut at work behind Makebs Bagels on south side of Fern Street just west of Olive Avenue
North side of the Herakut mural
North side of the Herakut mural
Jose Bedia and Nestor Arenas at work on south side of Evernia Street between Olive and Dixie
Nestor Arenas steers artist Jose Bedia into position on south side of Evernia Street between Olive and Dixie
fern west of dixie
Fern Street just west of Dixie
As they watch artist Sean Yoro under the Royal Park Bridge, three Palm Beach Atlantic University students provided audio entertainment with their ukuleles. (Left to right) Priscilla Cerquiera, Alysa Luching and Michael Leonard had no idea a mural was being painted; they came to the spot under the bridge because of its unique acoustics. They said Yoro told them he immediately recognized their instruments because he grew up in Hawaii.
As they watch artist Sean Yoro under the Royal Park Bridge, three Palm Beach Atlantic University students provided audio entertainment with their ukuleles. (Left to right) Priscilla Cerquiera, Alysa Luching and Michael Leonard had no idea a mural was being painted; they came to the spot under the bridge because of its unique acoustics. They said Yoro told them he immediately recognized their instruments because he grew up in Hawaii.

Snap, crackle, pop: Tree clearing changes landscape of WPB baseball site

root

Motorists on Military Trail south of 45th Street got a surprise today — a very different landscape west of the trail.
Snapping and crackling sounds echoed across the 160-acre site between the trail and Haverhill Road as bulldozers started clearing more than 1,000 trees as part of construction preparations for the new Major League Baseball spring training facility.

Most of the trees were exotics such as Australian pines. Native trees such as sabal palms will be saved and relocated on the site.

From the parking lot of Palm Beach Lakes High School, tree tops to the west could be seen shaking left and right before disappearing as they fell to the ground.

The site was used as a landfill from about 1955 to 2000, and the removal of trees and debris will go on for the next five months.

A year from now the landscape will look even more different, replaced by baseball fields and a stadium that will be used in 2017 by the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals.

There was also land being cleared on the west side of the site just east of Haverhill Road, but the changes were more pronounced on the east side of the site near Military Trail.

Looking west from Military Trail where practice fields for the Houston Astros will be built soon.
Looking west from Military Trail where practice fields for the Houston Astros will be built soon.

DANGER

Bobcat clears land-clearing dirt from the sidewalk on the west side of Military Trail.
Bobcat clears land-clearing dirt from the sidewalk on the west side of Military Trail.

cabbage

Looking west from the sidewalk in front of Palm Beach Lakes High School
Looking west from the sidewalk in front of Palm Beach Lakes High School
Buldozer kicks up dust as it rolls south on the baseball site just west of Military Trail
Buldozer kicks up dust as it rolls south on the baseball site just west of Military Trail

First tickets to new WPB baseball spring training complex are out — for a groundbreaking ceremony, not a game.

The first tickets to the new Major League Baseball spring training facility in West Palm Beach went out this morning, but it’s not for a baseball game just yet.

Ceremonial Groundbreaking Evite FINALThe Houston Astros and Washington Nationals sent invitations to Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches — and the electronic invitations look like a traditional baseball game ticket.

“Baseball is fun and brings people together, so we wanted to create a feel from the past and add to the present,” said Tom McNicholas, a spokesman for the teams.

About 100 people are expected to attend, including MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and the two team owners. But the event is invitation only to local dignitaries and media. It is not open to the public.

Workers are mowing grass and clearing weeds in preparation for Monday's ground-breaking ceremony at the new MLB spring training site south of 45th Street.
Workers are mowing grass and clearing weeds in preparation for Monday’s ground-breaking ceremony at the new MLB spring training site south of 45th Street.

The teams say they are not purposely trying to exclude the public from the ceremony, which starts at 10:30 a.m. on the main entrance to the 160-acre site off Haverhill Road.

It’s more of a safety issue because of challenges on the construction site.

There is limited space for the ceremony on the land, which is still an old landfill with high weeds, debris piles and rough terrain.

A spot near the entrance off Haverhill Road is being mowed and cleared to make room for a makeshift stage and tent for the ceremony and for limited parking.

Full clearing of the 160-acre site is underway this week, with work starting in the center of the land on the footprint of the main stadium.

The stadium is scheduled to open in January 2017, marking the return of MLB spring training to the city for the first time since the Atlanta Braves and Montreal Expos left old West Palm Beach Municipal Stadium after the spring of 1997.